James Michael Bush: Eat, Play, Write, Travel

Fitting In

I need a day off from the dwarven factory! I've been writing my dwarven story for close to a month now, and I'm taking a break. But I want to stick to my "write every day" project, and so I've decided the best way to stay motivated is to just write whatever I feel like writing. Today, that is not dwarves and adventure. So, I pulled up a blank word doc and just let the words flow. It's turned out to be a short 500 or so word story about a kid with special needs and his desire to just blend in with the other children his age. I've seen and dealt with so many students like this over the years, as my wife is a Special Needs Teacher. It can heartbreaking to see a rad little kid just absolutely broken down because he or she has been bullied and/or not supported properly by their parents/teachers. So, this little story is for them. I know you want to fit in. We all did at that age. Just keep being you and you will get those friends you want. You will get the support you need. Never give up.

All I Want

“He’s not even human, you know.” That’s what the kids at school say about me. I pretend like it doesn’t bother me but, in reality, it hurts. A lot. Because I am human. Of course I am. Just because I’m fat doesn’t make me a pig. Just because I’m blind doesn’t make me a monster. But try telling that to a bunch of mean eighth graders.

It also doesn’t help that English is my second language. I was born in Brazil. Now we live in Alabama, and my parents only speak Portuguese at home. They say it’s because they want to make sure I can speak my native tongue. But that means I only speak English at school, so it’s really hard to keep up and improve. I listen to TV shows and movies in English all the time, and then repeat what they’re saying, but without someone to talk to, it’s basically impossible to get better. And no one will talk to me at school, unless it’s to call me a freak, a pig, or an illegal alien. The only words I get to practice on a daily basis with kids my age are, “I am not. Leave me alone.”

My parents can’t afford to send me to a special school for blind kids, so I’m forced to attend this public school and be a part of their special needs program. I’m pretty smart, I guess. So, I don’t have problems in most classes, other than often having to clarify the vocabulary used by the teacher. I have a laptop with headphones that reads my textbook to me, which helps me keep up with the other kids. But the truth is, I’ll never be as good as them at most of these subjects. I have too many needs that need to be met, and the teachers here honestly don’t know what to do with me.

But I know what to do. I have to work as hard as I can just to scrape by. I have to try three times as hard as the other students, just to run at the back of the pack. And that’s what I’ve been doing. The surprising thing is, though… it’s working. My grades are improving bit by bit, and so is my English. Despite it seeming like everyone is against me, or at least not in favor of me, I am gaining ground. I may never reach the honor roll at this school, since I have some difficulties to deal with, but I will reach the middle of the pack. I will be considered just another one of the kids. And that is really all I want. Maybe then, I can make them see that I’m no so different, Maybe then, I can make some friends. Someone to play with at recess. Someone to have sleepovers with, like I hear the other kids do on the weekends. Someone to sit with me at lunch, and quietly tell me what food they are serving. That way I won’t have to be escorted by a teacher and receive a loud menu reading in the middle of the lunch line every day. That’s one of the most embarrassing parts of my day.

I don’t care when the doctors and counsellors and teachers and my parents all tell me that I’m special and that I can do whatever I want. I don’t want to be special. And if I have the power to do whatever I want, then I am going to fit in one day. Because that is all I really want.

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